Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is preparing for its second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, demonstration to show that private industry can build and launch spacecraft on regular cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.
The Dragon capsule is carrying with 1,000 pounds of cargo for the six-man crew aboard the ISS. After spending three weeks in space, Dragon will undock and reenter the Earth's atmosphere. Unlike other unmanned missions to the station, Dragon is equipped with a heat shield to survive the fiery plunge.
NASA Ames Research Center used it's expertise and unique Arc Jet facilities to help design and develop PICA-X, the lightweight heat shield material aboard Dragon.
For more information about NASA Ames, please visit http://www.nasa.gov/ames